'Frost/Nixon' is truly mesmerising on Blu-ray in its admirable 1080p VC-1 transfer which is framed at widescreen 2.35:1 - and is also region free.
Skin tones in the interview room look good in the directional lighting. Black levels are deep and the image is pin sharp. Occasionally a piece of dust is picked up floating in the air and you'd swear you could reach out and grab it. In the final interview, the sweat on Nixon's top lip is clearly visible. The sharpness aids believability as the secret of this type of two hander is that it's all in the eyes - and we focus clearly on those eyes for signs that either character is lying, bluffing or being sincere.
Grain is visible where you're meant to see it, such as in the supporting character interviews to camera. The period TV footage is obviously grainy, having been blown up to fill the widescreen frame but it's supposed to look like that - it adds a feeling of actuality. Overall this is a transfer that's very pleasing to watch.
'Frost/Nixon' isn't the type of film to rely upon noisy surround sound for its success, but what we do get is clean, crisp dialogue locked to the centre channel during the interviews from the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. It's a film all about dialogue so anything else would have simply distracted the audience. The surrounds are used with restraint whenever people other than the two leads are in the room, as well as for shots where a car goes through frame from left to right. Nothing more flashy than that.
A bit of ambience helps involve us in the scene, but the sound does not attempt to be the star of the movie - more the technically competent technician, whose work would be noticeable if it was wrong.
- Audio Commentary
Ron Howard reveals his passion for the project in this fascinating, insightful commentary . He explains that his aim with the camera movements was to place the audience on the stage of the play. If you enjoyed the movie, this is definitely worth a listen.
- The Making of “Frost/Nixon” (HD, 23mins)
This fairly short featurette often leans more towards a PR exercise, but it does give a good 'behind the scenes' look at the work that went into the production. A lot of the content is covered elsewhere on the disc, but well worth a watch for movie buffs.
- The Real Interview (HD, 7mins)
The title of this piece is a bit misleading. I expected some meaty chunks from the original interview, instead there are only a few minutes of the interviews but happily we do get almost all of the riveting section on Watergate, with commentary offered by Frank Langella, Ron Howard, and Kevin Bacon. It's interesting but way too short.
- Discovering Secrets: People & Places Behind History (HD, 13mins)
This has interviews with the real people, mixed with behind the scenes footage from the production including filming done at Nixon's retirement home, known as the Western White House. This tends to repeat material covered in other features.
- The Nixon Library (HD, 6mins)
A brief look at the Nixon Library, whose people helped the production immensely. This short feature includes some interviews with the staff of the library, many of whom worked for the former president in the years leading up to his death, and good shots of the truly beautiful library, built next to both the president's childhood home, as well as his grave.
- Deleted Scenes (30mins)
Here we have a good half hour of deleted scenes, which wouldn't have really contributed to the movie, so you can see why they ended up on the floor. The more interesting are the scenes that were in the original stage play but were cut from the film.
- U Control Picture-in-Picture
This is a documentary that runs parallel to the movie, including interviews with the filmmakers, actors, real life personalities (like Frost and Jim Reston Jr.). Overall, it's really good to see and complements the other features well.
- U Control Nixon Chronicles
Another running feature, that focuses on the history behind the movie. Original footage of the President, including clips from the interviews themselves, mixed with historical facts that pop up as text blocks, are present. Very worthwhile for those who were too young to remember the real life events.
It's hard to describe in words just how good 'Frost/Nixon' really is without sounding like a gushing sycophant. This is a very well made movie with astounding performances from Michael Sheen and Frank Langella in the title roles that almost defy criticism. The film holds your attention for its full running time without flagging. Electrifying, riveting, mesmerising - superb!
It comes to Blu-ray with a truly excellent 1080p VC-1 transfer, framed at 2.35:1 with realistic skin tones, deep blacks, good contrast and it is so sharp without hinting at over correction. It really is a treat for the eyes.
The sound is of high quality too, but don't expect the Hollywood blockbuster approach to the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. It's all about dialogue so we get clean, crisp speech delivered to the centre channel with surrounds reserved for ambience and left to right transitions.
The Extras provide not only a look at the production but also a time portal to events that a younger audience may have missed.
Overall - gob smacking!
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- Audio Commentary